Hall of Worthies

Hall of Worthies
Hanja 殿
Revised Romanization Jiphyeonjeon
McCune–Reischauer Chiphyŏnjŏn

The Hall of Worthies, or Jiphyeonjeon (Korean pronunciation: [tɕipʰjʌndʑʌn]; Hangul: 집현전), was a royal research institute set up by Sejong the Great of the Korean Joseon Dynasty in March 1420.[1] Set up during the beginning of his reign, King Sejong staffed the Hall of Worthies with talented scholars and instructed them to conduct a variety of research activities to strengthen his rule and the nation.[2] The Hall of Worthies is best known for the role it played in the development of the Hangul script, the official alphabet in the Korean language.


The Hall of Worthies originally served an advisory role to the king, and King Sejong restructured and expanded its role into an academic research institute. During the early part of King Sejong's reign, the Hall of Worthies served as a legislative system, but its role eventually grew to hold discussions regarding Joseon's national policy. The Hall of Worthies would also later act as an organ of press.[3]


The Hall participated in various scholarly endeavors, of which the best-known may be the compilation of the Hunminjeongeum, in which the hangul writing system was first formulated. In the Hunminjeongeum, King Sejong wrote a preface which explained the origin and purpose of the newly created alphabet, Hangul. He then instructed his scholars of the Jiphyeonjeon (Hall of Worthies) to write detailed explanations of each of its letters along with examples of each of them. The purpose of the Hunminjeongeum was to provide instructions on how to use the new alphabet. The definitive edition of the Hunminjeongeum is known as the Haerye Edition of Hunminjeongeum (Haerye refers to the explanations and examples of the Hall of Worthies scholars, which were previously missing in other known editions)[4]

The head of the Hall of Worthies, Chong In-ji, compiled the Hunminjeongeum, and his treatise explaining the creation of the script, he wrote that the work was widely introduced to the public on the tenth day of the ninth lunar month of 1446, which was October 9, 1446, on the Gregorian calendar.[5]

Confucianism ideals were very important to King Sejong, and he wanted his subjects to have a medium through which they could learn the ethics and morals of Confucianism. During his 14th year in power, King Sejong instructed his scholars at the Hall of Worthies to compile outstanding examples of the fundamental principles in human relationships (filial piety, loyalty to the state, and wifely devotion) from both Korean and Chinese history.[6] This compilation of works would become the book "Conduct of the Three Fundamental Principles in Human Relationships" (Samgang Haengshildo, Hanja: 三綱行實圖, Hangul: 삼강행실도). Unfortunately, this work was originally recorded in Chinese characters, and thus, the general public could not read it until it was translated into hangul some 30 years later.[6]

Besides the invention of Hangul and published works such as Samgang Haengshildo, the Hall of Worthies was involved in publication of numerous scholarly and scientific writings, which contributed to reputation of Sejong's reign as the golden age of Korean culture.


The Hall of Worthies was disbanded by King Sejo (Korean: 세조) after many of its members (notably the six martyred ministers) plotted to assassinate Sejo in 1456, following the latter's usurpation of the throne from King Danjong. However, a similar organization, the Hongmungwan (Korean: 홍문관), Office of Special Advisors, continued much of the same work, though without enjoying the same prestige or output it had during the earlier period.

Famous scholars

Members of the Hall of Worthies who plotted against King Sejo

See also


  1. "Jiphyeonjeon". Digital Hangeul Museum. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  2. Yi, Tae-jin. "Reexamination of King Sejong's Achievements". Koreana. The Korea Foundation. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  3. "Window on Korean Culture - 10 Hall of Worthies and the Invention of Hangeul". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHVrjVvEBSQ. The Korea Foundation. External link in |website= (help);
  4. "Hunminjeongeum". Cultural Heritage Administration. Cultural Heritage Administration.
  5. Paik, Syeung-gil. "Preserving Korea's Documents: UNESCO's 'Memory of the World Register'". Koreana. The Korea Foundation.
  6. 1 2 Yi, Tae-jin. "Reexamination of King Sejong's Achievements". Koreana. The Korea Foundation. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
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